Monday, November 14, 2011

On the Wall

I am not an artsy teacher. In fact, I look for every way possible to get out out of bulletin boards. Whether it's designing one bulletin board at the beginning of the year for displaying student work or covering my entire wall of bulletin boards in black fabric that will match every conceivable border and that I will never have to change, I look for the easiest solutions when it comes to my classroom walls.

At the NEU conference in Chicago, I attended this amazing session about "how to make every student a star." The middle school teachers presenting created this ingenious system of tracking student mastery of math standards. Basically, teaching one standard (or part of a standard) each week and giving a short test at the end of a week. The students who pass the test, get a star on the chart. Those who don't pass come in for tutorials until they retest and eventually get their star. Of course, there are incentives when you get a certain number of stars and whole class incentives when the entire class earns their stars on one column. What happened with these teachers is students helped each other attain their star and students came in voluntarily for extra help. Really a dream situation when you are a teacher.

I thought this system would work well with our current math intervention structure. Currently, we teach a standard a week, give a test at the end and then group our students for the following week's math intervention block, based solely on that test. If you pass the test, you go to an enrich class and if you are still struggling, you go to reteach. Since it is based on skill mastery and it changes every week, there is no shame in going to reteach. You just need a little more time to master that skill.

So, now we have added a sticker chart and changed the name to "spotlight math." I was incredibly proud of my display.

I spent 30 minutes after school on this. I walked around my classroom, and admired it's color and beauty from all angles.

Then, I cut through my teammate's classroom and saw this:

She also did this in 30 minutes. Sigh.

My fellow fifth grade teacher and friend, Krista, is so incredibly talented. The walls of her classroom exude creativity. I really admire how beautiful she made her room.

As for my room, well, I now have a little more color up than before.

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